Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Review – Adventure Time


Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Wii U

Release Date: December 5th, November 13th (Japan)

Captain Toad made his first playable appearance in Super Mario 3D World last year, bringing a humble reimagining of 3D puzzle platforming in a game full of cat-like uninhibited exploration. An entire game dedicated to non-leaping adventuring and puzzle-solving, in an isometric 3D environment while maintaining an enjoyable experience is a daunting task for Nintendo. Yet, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker strives to be a neat little collection of melon-scratchers worthy of trying out. Eventually.

There’s not much of a story in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The game begins with Captain Toad and Toadette looking for treasure among abandoned ruins. After obtaining a Power Star, the duo spots a feather descending from the sky, only for giant Magpie/Crow antagonist Wingo to swoop down and snatch the star. Unfortunately, with Toadette still clutching the star, Wingo flies off with her in tow. It is up to Captain Toad to rescue Toadette and recover the Power Star once again.

While one may be quick to point out that Nintendo hasn’t seemed to evolve much beyond their basic storyline plot points, especially pointing at the damsel in distress trope, might I add that there are three “books” (parts) that comprise the main adventure in this game. The second book begins with ultimately the same scenario, only with Captain Toad being captured away and Toadette having to come to his rescue. This narrative flip flops a few times as gameplay progresses, doing little to actually advance the game. Essentially, the developers knew that they had to create some sort of semblance of a story, so this is what they came up with. It’s unimaginative, but that’s not the point of this game.

No, the main draw to Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is navigating a 3D landscape while restricted to 360 degree movement on a horizontal plane. You will have to rely on ladders, staircases, moving platforms, cannons and even minecarts to navigate through each of the 70+ stages included in the game. There are three diamond gems to collect on each level, most of which are hidden off the beaten patch. On occasion, Golden Mushrooms are also strategically placed in the hardest-to-reach places, often proving to be a stage’s bonus challenge. A level ends after the Power Star is collected.

What I found most peculiar is that there is absolutely no time limit involved. Each stage records information based on your coin and gem total, with certain levels requiring a total gem count in order to advance. However, because of this gameplay direction, players can take as long as they want to completely finish a stage and clear it out for all its goodies. With the exception of the few minecart chapters that are on rails, or fast movement-based platforming levels (both of which are limited in number), all sense of urgency to complete a stage is thrown out the window.

the colorization of the game’s artistry is executed perfectly to exemplify its exuberance.

And with that, I was taken aback. Even if one were to rush through the entirety of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, they would recognize that this is by no means a difficult game to complete. A stage’s progression challenges may take a little bit of time to overcome, however with the exception of Golden Mushrooms (which are a nuisance to spot, and are enjoyable to uncover), you can ultimately brute-force most of the game’s puzzles at your own pace. With no penalties for taking your time, it actually serves better to go slower to collect coins, especially when a coin limit is sometimes required to complete a stage’s bonus challenge. What enemies lie in your path are mostly easy to avoid, and only occasionally present difficulty in impeding your path.

It’s an unfortunate direction to aim for, as overcoming thought-provoking challenges is essentially what the game is modeled around. Instead, the developers shifted their focus in what is a testament to map design, as the layouts for these stages are conceptually brilliant and visually creative. Throughout Captain Toad and Toadette’s adventures are a good number of platform and traversal-guided obstacles to overcome. You can only attack an enemy with a turnip, a pickaxe or by aiming your headlamp at them, but that’s aptly not the focus of the game. Instead, one overcomes greater design challenges through the power of camera manipulation, serving as the most potent tool in your arsenal.

Perspective is everything, and there’s never a truer saying to describe overcoming the challenges of Treasure Tracker. Hidden walls, secret chambers and objects required to advance are all viewable when moving the camera angle as required.  An oddly satisfying rush of energy overcomes the player when figuring out the answer to a 3D puzzle, and the way Nintendo has designed its stages beautifully complements this approach. The game may not sport the best graphics, but the colorization of the game’s artistry is executed perfectly to exemplify its exuberance. Captain Toad borrows a lot of its cartoonish tone from Super Mario 3D World and applies it in a gameplay style unique to its own to create a refreshing puzzle platforming experience.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a pleasant way to exercise your mind over the course of 6-10 hours worth of brain teasers.

This is most notable when encountering the few bosses within Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, as platforming mixes with action to create the game’s (appropriately) most difficult encounters. The regular cube-like stage design instead molds around the enemy’s lair, dynamically changing as objects are destroyed or moved. They serve as some of the more inventive stages, relying more on improving one’s pure platforming skills on the fly to overcome rather than taking things slow. The boss battles also do a great job of improving the game’s pace, making sure to keep players on their toes as later stages become more and more difficult to solve.

When completing Treasure Tracker, as things start to settle in the more one becomes enamored with the game’s sensibilities. Mario games are very lighthearted from the get go, but both Captain Toad and Toadette are comically emotive in their expressions as they face each stage. The overall charm is strengthened as one notices the many nods to previous Mario games are present. Many of Super Mario 3D World’s elements are present, including several stages and music tracks. You can play bonus levels throughout your progression that play as straight-up Super Mario 3D World stages, except you’re playing as Captain Toad. There are even entire stage designs inspired by classic Nintendo games.


More from Reviews

For a game that launches significantly below a full retail price, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker hits its target of creating an enjoyable puzzle platformer, but doesn’t offer much else. There are a great number of stages included, and they mostly stay fresh and unique in their designs. Although there’s not much of a story, the core gameplay mechanics in manipulating the camera to problem-solve puzzles is noteworthy. However, by removing the game’s timer, most stages can be solved by endlessly exploiting all options, and vastly decreases the difficulty of a game that direly needs it. Falling just short of greatness, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a pleasant way to exercise your mind over the course of 6-10 hours worth of brain teasers.

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.